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The Rise of Creative Writing

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 17:30 to 19:30
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 18:30 to 20:30
Tuesday, May 1, 2012 - 18:30 to 20:30

Research seminar organised in collaboration with the Institute of English Studies at the University of London. February – May 2012

Creative Writing has been taught in British universities for forty years and really took off in the last two decades. There are over a hundred MA courses in the UK, the best of which are a significant training ground for ambitious writers. It is easy to demonstrate that a good writing course can give a talented student a high-speed ride to literary accomplishment. But there has been very little systematic investigation into whether the teaching of Creative Writing has made a traceable impact upon contemporary literary methods and styles. Have creative writing courses changed the nature and styles of what is written and published, of how literature is currently perceived, produced, and consumed? For example, have creative writing courses fuelled the recent resurgence of the short story? In what ways could the relationship between Creative Writing education and literary culture be considered beneficial? In what ways might it be considered restrictive or harmful? How does the British situation compare with the impact of writing programmes in the USA or elsewhere?    

The seminars are on Tuesdays from 17.30 – 19.30. Each seminar will be led by two speakers (to be announced).


21 February 2012
'Impacts on the Short Story'

Alison MacLeod (University of Chichester).

Alison MacLeod photoAlison MacLeod’s short stories have been widely published by, for example, Prospect, London Magazine, Bloomsbury, Virago and Comma Press, and broadcast on Radio 4.  In 2008 she was awarded the Society of Authors' Prize for short fiction, while her collection Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction (Penguin) was named as one of the ‘Top Ten Books to Talk About in 2009’ in association with the Guardian and World Book Day events.  More recently, she was shortlisted for the 2011 BBC National Short Story Award for her story ‘The Heart of Denis Noble’, and she is currently completing her second short story collection.  MacLeod is also the author of two novels, The Changeling (Macmillan) and The Wave Theory of Angels (Penguin), and her next novel will be published by Penguin in 2013.   Alongside her writing, she is Professor of Contemporary Fiction at the University of Chichester.

Derek Neale (The Open University)

Derek Neale photoDerek Neale is an award-winning short story writer. A graduate of UEA’s MA in Creative Writing, he taught both fiction and scriptwriting there for a number of years. He has recently helped design a whole new generation of Open University courses, publishing three books about writing in 2009 – he co-authored two volumes, Writing Fiction and Life Writing (both Routledge) and edited, and was a principal author of, A Creative Writing Handbook: developing dramatic technique, individual style and voice (A&C Black). He was a contributing author in the influential volume Creative Writing: A Workbook with Readings (Routledge, 2006), with chapters on the creative process, fiction and life writing. A book of his interviews with writers will be published in 2013. One of his most recent interviews – with Iain Banks at the 2010 Cheltenham Literature Festival -  can be seen on YouTube. His novel, The Book of Guardians, will be published in July 2012 (Salt). He is currently Director of Teaching for English at the OU.

Venue: Room 273 (Stewart House, Second floor)
Time: 17:30 - 19:30

27 March 2012
'Impacts on the Novel'

Maureen Freely (University of Warwick)

Maureen Freely photoMaureen Freely was born in the US but grew up in Turkey, where her family still lives.  She was educated at Radcliffe College (Harvard University) and has spent most of her adult life in England.  A professor at the University of Warwick, she writes frequently in the British press on feminism, family and social policy, Turkish culture and politics, and contemporary writing.  She is perhaps best known for her translations of five books by the Turkish novelist and Nobel Laureate, Orhan Pamuk and for her campaigning journalism after he and many other writers, scholars and activists were prosecuted for insulting Turkishness or the memory of Ataturk.  Her sixth novel, Enlightenment, was published in 2007.  Like her work-in-progress, it is set in Istanbul.

Andrew Cowan (University of East Anglia)

Andrew Cowan photo by Martin FiguraAndrew Cowan is Director of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He is the author of five novels: Pig, which won several literary prizes including the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and was longlisted for the Booker Prize, Common Ground, Crustaceans, What I Know, which received an Arts Council Writer’s Award, and Worthless Men, which will be published by Sceptre in spring 2013. His Creative Writing guidebook, The Art of Writing Fiction, was published by Pearson Longman last year.

hoto credit: Martin Figura

Venue: Room 261 (Senate House, second floor)
Time: 17:30 - 19:30

1 May 2012
'Impacts on Poetry'

Gregory Leadbetter (Birmingham City University)

Gregory Leadbetter photoGregory Leadbetter was born in Stourbridge in 1975. A collection of his poems, The Body in the Well, was published by HappenStance in 2007, and his poems have been commended in the Arvon Poetry Competition and shortlisted for the Strokestown Poetry Prize. He has written radio drama for the BBC, and his book on Coleridge’s poetry and poetics, Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2011. He lectures in Creative Writing and English Literature at Birmingham City University, and teaches Creative Writing for the Open University.

Stephanie Norgate (University of Chichester)

Stephanie Norgate photoStephanie Norgate is a playwright and poet. Her radio plays, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, include: The Greatest Gift (winner of a Radio Times Drama Award), Clive and The Journalistic Adventures of an American Girl in London (Woman’s Hour serial).  Her stage plays have received readings and performances on the London Fringe with Paines Plough and Theatre Machine at venues such as the Lyric Studio, Hammersmith, The Finborough Theatre and The Old Red Lion.  Her poetry publications include: Fireclay (1998, winner of a Poetry Business pamphlet award), Oxford Poets 2000 eds., Constantine D, Lee H., and O’Donoghue,  B. (Carcanet 2000), and Hidden River,  (Bloodaxe Books 2008) shortlisted for the Forward First Collection prize and the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection prize. Her second collection, The Blue Den, is forthcoming from Bloodaxe in September 2012. She runs the MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester where she has taught for sixteen credit: Hannah Burton

Venue: Room 261 (Senate House, second floor)
Time: 17:30 - 19:30

Contact Us

Contact Derek Neale or Ed Hogan by email: 

The Postal Address is:

Department of English and Creative Writing
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

Tel +44-1908-652092